Friday, November 23, 2012

Of cats and dogs

Yesterday, before Thanksgiving dinner, my son arrived with a dog that he's pet sitting for a friend. When the big dog came into the house, Sunny (my cat with the cocked head) was sitting in the living room. Sunny hunkered down with hackles raised, his eyes glowing in fear. The elderly dog sauntered right past Sunny completely uninterested and sat down. Sunny looked stunned for a moment then took off running and dived under a bed.

My granddaughter and her family were also here. Her husband, Ty is a policeman and along with his black lab pal Kino, they are the town's K-9 unit. He and the dog went through all the strict training for the K-9 service. Kino lives with the family but they didn't bring him along.
              See Kino sneaking into the picture on the right side.

When we got on the topic of dogs chasing cats, Ty said that part of Kino's police training was aversion to cats. He said the first time Kino went after a cat, he got a big jolt from his shock collar and never did it again. (It sounds cruel but I suppose they need to rigidly reinforce it in the dog's mind.)

That reminded me of the picture that's been floating around online for years that shows the cat marching past a row of German Shepherds.

                              I love the tension in the shot.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hidden Valley

The Hidden Valley turkey troop has acquired an 11th member. In the last several days, a little female has been tagging along with the ten others as they stroll around the neighborhood. She must have been from a later hatch, perhaps from another brood as she's noticeably smaller than the others. She also walks with a limp so she's always the last one to reach the food. There's always plenty so she eats well.
I don't know if I've mentioned before that my neighborhood is called Hidden Valley. The "valley" was created when a gravel pit was excavated on the north side of a big hill in the early twentieth century. It is about eight blocks long and bounded by a large cemetery on one end and a large greenhouse/nursery on the other. All the streets running south off the main road end in a cul de sac or a turn at the base of the steep, forested slope. The cliff rises 100 feet just a short way from my patio.   
Google image of Hidden Valley, click to enlarge--the small X marks my building. (The tiny car in the driveway in my old car that I crashed two years ago.) Directly north is the wooded lot that my bedroom window overlooks. The trees across the bottom of the image are on the slope. At the top of the slope is a fence surrounding the cemetery. There is a large woodsy area on the east side behind the apartment buildings, as well.

Tonight we will be watching Homeland and Dexter on TV. They are both gripping series we never miss. Last week ended the (old) British series William and Mary and Call the Midwife which we will miss. I'm hoping there will be a new season of Doc Martin coming soon! Martin Clunes is a really likeable guy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

If you feed them, they will come!

I often write about the wooded lot next door and the animal life there. I began putting out pans of water this summer during the drought and it attracted so many birds and animals that I've kept it up.

We also have been putting food out and the crowd of wildlife coming to the "dinner table" on the retaining wall by the wooded lot keeps growing. In addition to the dozen or so squirrels, an assortment of birds and the wild turkeys, there are three opossums, several raccoons and a two foxes. There are an occasional couple of freeloading cats, two cottontail rabbits and four or five deer. Someone down the block dumped their Halloween pumpkins in the wooded lot and the deer come to munch on them. The pumpkin seeds are gobbled up by the squirrels. 

My twelve wild turkeys have shrunk to ten. I suspect that someone poached the missing two--although the foxes may have gotten them. With Thanksgiving next Thursday and roast turkey being the traditional meal, I worry about the rest of them. It's illegal to hunt in the city but someone with a crossbow could sneak up on them. They stroll around the neighborhood all day and they're so used to being around people that it wouldn't be hard.
The traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner that I cook every year consists of: roast turkey with herb dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, sweet potato/apple casserole, relish tray with pickles, olives and fresh veggies and dinner rolls. For those who don't eat meat, I also serve salmon (we don't have any vegans). I also make pumpkin pie and another pie. It's a lot of work, but it is sooo good!  

Thanksgiving 2010 (Note dog intently watching platter of turkey!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

The beauty of the "Surge"

There is a phenomenon among the dying called a "surge". Apparently, sometimes the brain will suddenly become active and the patient will revive for a brief period before they expire. 

Last week, my daughter's mother-in-law died. She was my three grandkid's other grandma. Her health had suddenly declined to the point of no return and she was taken to hospice care where she remained in a semi-responsive state.

All the family members and relatives came to see her and visit over the final days but she seemed only vaguely aware of them. On the last evening of her life, many of the family came to say their farewells. After the older folks had gone, only her five grandchildren remained--all of them in their early twenties.

Their grandma suddenly woke up, threw back the covers and wanted to get out of bed! The kids summoned a nurse who got her up and into a chair. For the next twenty minutes, she regaled them with jokes and wisecracks that had them all convulsed with laughter.

Afterward, she went back to bed and the five cousins left. Their grandma died at 3:00 in the morning.

But, what a marvelous gift she gave them! She left them with those wonderful memories of that final night they had all shared together. They weren't saddled with sad memories of the sick old woman who they had known in her later years. She was the lively, personable grandma they could hold in their hearts as someone who loved them.

Wouldn't it be great if we all had that option?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Quotes from A Robert Brault Reader

The Hope In A Two-Party System...

"The hope in a two-party system is that the party of 2 + 2 = 3 and the party of 2 + 2 = 5 can carve out a compromise."

First Rule of Political Debate:  "If there's no proof, deny it.  And if proof turns up, deny you denied it."

Heard in a Washington DC confessional:  "Bless me Father,  for sins have been committed."

And one of my favorites:

"Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true."